Simple Paper Marigolds for Dia de los Muertos

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos, played a big cultural role in my childhood. You might know the holiday’s symbols of colorful skulls and skeletons, altars to ancestors with offerings (ofrendas) such as candles, photographs of loved ones, and the bright marigold flowers (cempazuchitl) that are known in Mexico as the flower of the dead.

The marigold flowers decorate altars and graves, often elaborately.

Today I’m sharing a simple way to make your own paper marigold flowers to decorate your home or altar for Dia de los Muertos. These pretty flowers can be made in any color, and you could easily apply this same technique for building a bursting Mother’s Day or birthday flower bouquet.

The materials are inexpensive and the flowers take mere minutes to make!

Simple DIY Paper Marigolds for Dia de los Muertos | TinkerLab.com

Paper Flower Supplies

This will make two paper marigolds

Step 1: Cut the Paper

  1. Cut the tissue paper in half so that you now have two sheets: 13″ x 20″ each
  2. Cut each of those pieces in half. You will now have four sheets that are about 10 ” x 13″ each
  3. Cut each of those pieces in half. You will now have eight sheets of paper that are about 7.5″ x 10″

Note: You could make these any size! Please take these dimensions as a starting point.

Simple DIY Paper Marigolds for Dia de los Muertos  |  TinkerLab.com

Step 2: Fold and Cut the Paper

  1. Stack four sheets of paper.
  2. Pleat the paper in an accordion fold.
  3. Cut a half-circle shape from the each end. (You could also cut a point or zig-zag)
  4. Wrap a pipe cleaner around the middle of the paper to hold it in place. This will also act as the stem.

Simple DIY Paper Marigolds for Dia de los Muertos  |  TinkerLab.com

Step 3: Fan out the Flowers

  1. Fan out the paper.
  2. Gently separate the first layer of paper from the rest, and move it up to form the top layer of petals.
  3. Gently separate the rest of the paper layers.
  4. Fluff out your flower.
  5. Repeat with the other stack of four papers.

Simple DIY Paper Marigolds for Dia de los Muertos  |  TinkerLab.com

Experiment

  • Try making those with tiny sheets of paper
  • Make gigantic flowers
  • Make multi-colored flowers with different colors of tissue paper
  • Cut different shapes off the edges of your petals
  • Make a stack of more pieces of paper for a fuller flower

Step 4: Display your Marigolds!

Simple DIY Paper Marigolds for Dia de los Muertos  |  TinkerLab.com

 

More Day of the Dead Ideas

Mexican Tin Painting for Kids: TinkerLab

Make Day of the Dead Play Dough Cookies: TinkerLab

How to Make a Mexican Sugar Scull: Mexican Sugar Skull.com

How to Make a Skull Paper Snowflake: Crafty Lady Abby

Gallon Milk Jug Sugar Skull: YouTube

 

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In case you blinked and missed it, TinkerLab rounds up all the great stuff on the internets on keeping you and your critters creative and wraps it up for you in a tidy newsletter! (And throws in some secret giveaways for good measure!)  – Yuliya P., San Francisco, CA

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Halloween Crafts for Kids

Here comes Halloween! I scoured some of my favorite kid-friendly sites and found this awesome selection of Halloween Crafts for Kids. I think you’ll love them.

What does this Halloween Crafts for Kids roundup include?

  • Ghosts, pumpkins, spider webs, mummies, monsters, and skeletons.
  • Activities for toddlers, preschoolers, and school age kids.
  • Crafts that kids can actually do. Some with a little adult assistance.
  • Projects that use easy-to-find household materials such as spaghetti, cardboard rolls, candy, paint, string, jars, egg cartons, gauze, and cotton balls.
  • Sixteen projects to keep us busy for a while!

Halloween Crafts for Kids

Easy and Fun Halloween Crafts for Kids | TinkerLab

Let’s get started…

Halloween Crafts for Kids | TinkerLab.com

Even little kids can get in on the Halloween action with this festive Cotton Ball Ghost for Toddlers: No Time for Flash Cards

This Pumpkin Mummy Family is not messy to make and beyond cute: Hands on as we Grow

Build fine-motor skills with this simple Marshmallow Skull Craft: No Time for Flash Cards

I would have to give in to my kids’ begging to eat the candy corn while making this Candy Corn Monster but it would be worth it: Crafty Morning

Halloween Crafts for Kids | TinkerLab.com

These Marble + Paint Spider Webs are toddler-friendly. Making these is soooo addictive : TinkerLab

The tutorial for these Handmade Spider Sacks is wonderful! : Modern Parents Messy Kids

Cut up some circles and then invite your child to decorate for this Easy DIY Halloween Garland: TinkerLab

Add a little holiday glow to a dark patio or room with these Halloween Lantern Jars: Red Ted Art

Halloween Crafts for Kids | TinkerLab.com

Use cardboard rolls as the base for a Monster Mobiles, and let your child have fun decorating: Happy Hooligans

Got K-cups? Save them for a Recycled K-cup Recycled Lantern: Handmade Kids Art

These Glowing Pumpkin and Monster Jars are dipped in colored salt! What a cool texture: Fantastic Fun and Learning

Make a handprint spider and practice lacing in this Handprint Spider in a Spider Web: Mom Endeavors

Halloween Crafts for Kids | TinkerLab.com

Before making a Spaghetti Spider Web, build memories by inviting a child to play with slimy, green spaghetti: Hands on as we Grow

Fun! With the addition of a rubber band, make this Easy Halloween Craft Bouncy Spider: Kids Activities Blog

Invite your child to cover paper with masking tape, and then cut out a Masking Tape Mummy: No Time for Flash Cards

Save those egg cartons for this simple Egg Carton Bat: Crafty Morning

More Halloween Ideas

If you enjoyed this post, you have to check out 50 Simple Halloween Ideas for Kids.

Join the TinkerLab Community

And, you might enjoy signing up for the weekly TinkerLab newsletter. It’s free and we often send exclusive content and opportunities that are only available to our subscribers.

TinkerLab Newsletter

In case you blinked and missed it, TinkerLab rounds up all the great stuff on the internets on keeping you and your critters creative and wraps it up for you in a tidy newsletter! (And throws in some secret giveaways for good measure!)  – Yuliya P., San Francisco, CA

Join our community and you’ll learn:

  • How to simplify your life and make more room for creativity
  • How to make hands-on making a part of your everyday life
  • Easy, actionable ways to raise creative kids

Fun and Easy Halloween Crafts for Kids | TinkerLab.com

 

Fall Craft Ideas: Leaf Drawing

This fall craft idea is also a simple creative invitation that doesn’t require a lot of fancy tools and won’t come with a big mess. If you’re new to the idea of creative invitations, this article has all the details you’ll need to get started.

Fall Craft Ideas | Leaf Drawing  | TinkerLab

Supplies for Fall Leaf Drawing

  • Leaves
  • Colored pencils or your favorite mark-making tool
  • Paper

Fall Craft Ideas | Leaf Drawing  | TinkerLab

My 4-year old and I took a bike ride and she chose this selection of leaves. We arranged them on the table and she added a crystal. Because, you know, it looks better that way.

We marveled at all the colors in the leaves and then I invited her to draw them. We used Lyra Ferby colored pencils (affiliate link) for the task. I love these crayon/pencils for little kids because they’re a bit fatter than standard colored pencils (with a 6.25 mm lead core), and they come with a triangle grip that makes them easy to hold.

My daughter still insists on holding her pencil with her pinky and seems quite comfortable with this grip. And I’m still working on helping her shift to a better grip! If this is something that your child struggles with, this post has some great tips in the comments.

Fall Craft Ideas | Leaf Drawing | TinkerLab

The Fall Leaf Drawing Set-up

Set up a large sheet of drawing paper, scatter a few leaves around, and place freshly sharpened colored pencils on the table.

Invite your child to look closely at the leaves and notice the variety of colors and shapes, and then discuss what you see.

Some questions to ask:

  • What colors do you notice?
  • Do any of the colors surprise you?
  • How many points does this leaf have? Let’s count them together.
  • Which of these leaves could have come from the same tree?
  • Do you have a favorite leaf in this collection? What makes it your favorite?

Fall Craft Ideas | Leaf Drawing  | TinkerLab

Experiments in Drawing Fall Leaves

I sat across the table from my daughter and we drew leaves together. I always encourage my kids to experiment, and one way to do that is by modeling. As I colored my leaves in I layered one color on top of another. I noted that the red blended into green on one of the leaves, and tried to replicate that in my sketch.

My 4-year old payed attention to that and then pushed it one step further as she colored one of her leaves blue and purple, and gave another blue veins…because she liked the way it looked. Rock on! If you child goes for the unexpected, encourage him or her to go for it. The goal is to use the leaves as a starting point, and then layer that with interpretation and imagination.

More Leaf Projects

Make adorable Leaf Critters by painting directly on leaves with acrylic paint.

Preserve your Fall leaves in glycerin

Make coffee filter suncatchers in leaf shapes

Is this your first time here?

Join the Tinkerlab network and be the first to know about simple art + science projects for kids, creativity tips, and simple ideas that will make your life more creative. Sign up for our newsletter.

TinkerLab Newsletter

In case you blinked and missed it, TinkerLab rounds up all the great stuff on the internets on keeping you and your critters creative and wraps it up for you in a tidy newsletter! (And throws in some secret giveaways for good measure!)  – Yuliya P., San Francisco, CA

Join our community and you’ll learn:

  • How to simplify your life and make more room for creativity
  • How to make hands-on making a part of your everyday life
  • Easy, actionable ways to raise creative kids

Fall Craft Ideas: Paint Coffee Filter Suncatchers

If you’re interested in ways to bring the Fall season to life, today I’m sharing fall craft idea that encourages children to be inventive and think independently.

A Fall Art Invitation: Coffee Filter Leaf Sun Catchers

Present the Supplies as an Art Invitation

If you follow TinkerLab, you know that I appreciate projects that encourage children to think for themselves and come up with their own unique spin on the materials. Like so many of our projects, I present the supplies to my children as an art invitation. Once the supplies are in front of my kids, they are free to use the materials in any way the please.

So, what will we need?

The supplies for this project are so easy!

A Fall Art Invitation: Coffee Filter Leaf Sun Catchers

Here’s the set-up…

A Fall Art Invitation: Coffee Filter Leaf Sun Catchers

Pre-cut coffee filters into leaf shapes. As you can see in the first image in this post, there were a few requests for hearts too. Related to that, this is by no means an exclusive-to-Autumn activity. Cut out hearts, moons, trees, flowers, or even shamrocks. Have fun with this!

Place the cut-out shapes on a tray. We used an art tray, but a cookie sheet with a rim will work equally well. You’ll want the tray because this project can get drippy, and all that liquid will be nicely contained in this walled-off area. I found our art trays at Michaels and spotted something similar over on Amazon (affiliate link).

For two children, you can have them share a bowl of water as I did, or give them each their own water (they would appreciate that, I’m sure!).

A Fall Art Invitation: Coffee Filter Leaf Sun Catchers

At ages three and six, my kids had very different approaches to this task.

As you can see from the dot-covered table, my three-year old had a GREAT time exploring dot-making on the table. My older daughter experimented with drawing veins and rainbow effects, and her little sister soon got on board with similar tasks.

It’s always interesting to see how artists influence each other, and I’m 100% okay with copying as it’s a way of learning.

A Fall Art Invitation: Coffee Filter Leaf Sun Catchers

Kids also like to experiment with different paintbrushes (flat, round, fan, skinny, and fat) to achieve a variety of textures and lines. If you have a collection of paintbrushes, this is a great project to bring them out for.

Drying the Coffee Filters

If your child gets into this project, you will have A LOT of painted coffee filters to contend with. As such, you’ll need to set up a space to dry these gorgeous leaves.

Roll out a large sheet of paper or lay down newspaper, and then place the painted cut-outs on the paper until dry. Because the paper is so thin, they tend to dry incredibly fast!

A Fall Art Invitation: Coffee Filter Leaf Sun Catchers

Once dry, hang the shapes in a window with a bit of transparent tape. Admire the colors as the sun shines through them.

More Fall Craft Ideas

Make a shimmering Fall Lantern

This easy Sticky Autumn Collage is perfect for toddlers and preschoolers

Preserve your leaves in glycerin with Glycerin Leaves

This is our favorite play dough recipe, with a fall scent: DIY Pumpkin Pie Playdough

Make Leaf Sun Prints as a way to preserve leaf shapes on fabric.

And for a whole slew of Autumn ideas, check out the fun Fall Bucket List

Is this your first time here?

Join the Tinkerlab network and be the first to know about simple art + science projects for kids, creativity tips, and simple ideas that will make your life more creative. Sign up for our newsletter.

TinkerLab Newsletter

In case you blinked and missed it, TinkerLab rounds up all the great stuff on the internets on keeping you and your critters creative and wraps it up for you in a tidy newsletter! (And throws in some secret giveaways for good measure!)  – Yuliya P., San Francisco, CA

Join our community and you’ll learn:

  • How to simplify your life and make more room for creativity
  • How to make hands-on making a part of your everyday life
  • Easy, actionable ways to raise creative kids

Fall Craft Ideas | Leaf Critters

My little one and I have been taking bike rides while her sister is at school, and have had a wonderful time collecting fallen leaves. If you’re looking for fall craft ideas (for kids or adults), today’s simple painted leaf tutorial is a keeper. When autumn hits, this is a fun way to acknowledge the seasonal shift.

Fall Craft Ideas | Leaf Critters | TinkerLab.com

Begin by collecting an assortment of leaves. Choose leaves that have already fallen, when possible. And then collect the rest of your supplies. I recommend acrylic paint because it has the best staying power.

Supplies

Some of the supplies listed are affiliate links.

Fall Craft Ideas | Leaf Critters | TinkerLab.com

Steps: Painted Fall Leaf Critters

Before you start painting, take a look at the leaf and try to figure out what kind of critter you want it to be. Will it be a fish, octopus, or monster? Paint eyes on with acrylic paint.

Fall Craft Ideas | Leaf Critters | TinkerLab.com

Layer on some details…

Fall Craft Ideas | Leaf Critters | TinkerLab.com

And then, if you like, glue it to a sheet of paper and add more details with marker.

Fall Craft Ideas | Leaf Critters | TinkerLab.com

And there you have it: a fun and simple way to celebrate Fall.

p.s. There’s no wrong way to do this. You could even forget the “critter” idea altogether and simply paint abstract shapes all over your leaves.

More Fall Craft Ideas with Leaves

There are two blogs that you HAVE to check out…

The Artful Parent may be the first place I saw the idea to paint on leaves. Leaf drawing and doodling is lovely for little kids who aren’t yet drawing things that are realistic and Leaf Peepers is the predecessor to our Leaf Critters.

14 Ways to Paint Leaves ArtBarBlog pulls some of the best painted leaf posts together in one place. Be sure to check this out for lots of ways to turn those leaves into works of art.

Make it a Party!

Gather some friends together, ask them to bring a small collection of fresh leaves, set up all the materials ahead of time, and serve hot apple cider.

Fall Craft Ideas | Leaf Critters | TinkerLab.com

Is this your first time here?

Join the Tinkerlab network and be the first to know about simple art + science projects for kids, creativity tips, and simple ideas that will make your life more creative. Sign up for our newsletter.

TinkerLab Newsletter

In case you blinked and missed it, Tinkerlab rounds up all the great stuff on the internets on keeping you and your critters creative and wraps it up for you in a tidy newsletter! (And throws in some secret giveaways for good measure!)  – Yuliya P., San Francisco, CA

Join our community and you’ll learn:

  • How to simplify your life and make more room for creativity
  • How to make hands-on making a part of your everyday life
  • Easy, actionable ways to raise creative kids

 

Easy DIY Halloween Garland

Easy DIY Halloween Garland :: Tinkerlab

Elmer’s Glue sent us a big pack Early Learner’s materials, and I invited my five-year old to help me come up with a project that other children might enjoy making. My kids created all sorts of things with the pom-poms, buttons, popsicle sticks, fuzzy pipe cleaners, and paper that came with the kit, and then we finally settled on this simple garland that’s sure to brighten any home for Halloween.

It’s easy to prep, doesn’t require any hard-to-find materials, and your child will be encouraged to think creatively as she invents jack-o-lantern faces.

Let’s get started…

E

Supplies

  • Construction Paper: Orange, Black, Green
  • Crayons: Black and White
  • Glue. Elmer’s sent us their new Early Learner Glue Stick and Glue Pen to try out.
  • Scissors
  • Long piece of string

Easy DIY Halloween Garland :: Tinkerlab

Prep

  1. Pre-cut circles from the black and orange paper. Approximately 4″ across.
  2. Pre-cut stems (rectangles) from the green paper. Approximately 3″ long and 3/4″ wide
  3. Recycle your paper scraps

Easy DIY Halloween Garland drawing

Invitation

Invite your child to decorate the circular shapes with Jack o’ Lantern faces. Be sure to color both sides if you plan to hang your garland in the middle of the room.

My daughter asked me to join her, and gave me very specific instructions about how the faces should look. I’m a good student and listened carefully.

Easy DIY Halloween Garland :: Tinkerlab

When the faces are done, fold your stems in half and glue them to the piece of string.

DIY Halloween Garland :: Tinkerlab

Be sure to leave about a foot on either end so that you can tie it off to a hook or nail. We decided to tape ours to the rafters because we’re glamorous like that.

Easy DIY Halloween Garland :: Tinkerlab

Creative Invitations

Creative Invitations like this are a great way to encourage independent thinking and problem solving. The idea is to set up a provocation with some basic materials, and then step back and see what your child comes up with. Our friends at The Art Pantry are hosting an Invitations to Create Challenge this month, and you can find out more about it here.

Halloween Inspiration

Screen Shot 2013-10-13 at 5.18.49 PM

For more Halloween inspiration, follow our Halloween board on Pinterest. You might also like to see one of our most popular Halloween posts: 50 Simple Halloween Activities for Kids. You can also follow Elmer’s on Pinterest for lots of gluey inspiration.

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Disclosure: Elmer’s sent us materials to create this project, but all opinions expressed in this post are our own.

 

Fingerprint Spiders for Halloween

Did you know that black widows are known for cannibalizing their mates?* Eek. Bet you didn’t plan to come to Tinkerlab today to get info like that.

Fingerprint Spiders for Halloween | Tinkerlab

Spider season has arrived, at least in the Halloween sense of the word, and while it may feel to early for some of us, kids can be wildly in tune with the changing of the seasons. And if it still feels too premature, you can pin this today and keep it up your sleeve for a spooky day down the road.

For us, Halloween catalogues have been arriving for a few weeks now, and decorations are popping up in all the local stores. So when my older daughter started drawing jack-o-lanterns I knew that this project would be a hit.

First let’s talk about supplies…

What You’ll Need

Fingerprint Spiders Supplies

Simple, right?

Step One

Make some fingerprints on your paper.

Have a damp rag handy in case your child is sensitive to having ink on his or her fingers. My kids are okay with this, and understood that that the ink won’t wash off completely until bath time. 

Fingerprint Spiders Halloween

Step Two

Draw on spider legs and faces. However you like. Add goggly eyes if you have any handy.

Fingerprint Spiders Making Prints

This is a great opportunity to talk about how many legs a spider has (8), and introduce other fun spider facts (unlike the one I shared at the beginning of this post). Try these:

Spider Facts

  • Spiders are not insects, but arachnids
  • Spiders have 8 legs. Insects have 6 legs.
  • Cobwebs are simply abandoned spider webs.
  • Spiders do not have antennae.
  • In the 1970’s spiders were sent into space to see if they could build a web with zero gravity. The conclusion? While scientists eventually concluded that the quality of the space webs were slightly different from gravity-based webs, webs were made in space!
  • The biggest spider in the world is the Goliath bird eater, a type of tarantula.

Be creative and open-minded.

Despite our conversation about how spiders have eight legs, my independent-minded five-year old gave all of hers eight legs…on both side of their bodies. She said that they look better that way. What do you think?

Fingerprint Spiders Drawing Legs

Step Three

Now that all the materials are out, experiment a little more and be open to new ideas.

We brought out a few more pens to test out the different thicknesses and textures. Then we poured some watercolors into a small bowl and made painted spiders.

Fingerprint Spiders Creative Table

From there, the painting and drawing experiments expanded to include abstract patterns and fully covered pieces of paper.

Fingerprint Spiders and Painting Experiments

See you next time for more tinkering fun!


*For more weird spider facts, Michael Miller, animal keeper at the Smithsonian, compiled a list of 8 strange but true spider facts that will fascinate you.


More Fingerprint Spiders

One of my readers and friend, Vlada, sent me these fingerprint spiders made by her daughters. I LOVE the addition of red for the legs. And the goggly eyes! What a fun touch.

Fingerprint Spiders | TinkerLab.com

More Halloween Ideas

If you enjoyed this post, you have to check out 50 Simple Halloween Ideas for Kids.

TinkerLab Newsletter

In case you blinked and missed it, TinkerLab rounds up all the great stuff on the internets on keeping you and your critters creative and wraps it up for you in a tidy newsletter! (And throws in some secret giveaways for good measure!)  – Yuliya P., San Francisco, CA

Join our community and you’ll learn:

  • How to simplify your life and make more room for creativity
  • How to make hands-on making a part of your everyday life
  • Easy, actionable ways to raise creative kids

Fall Luminary: Make a Lantern

Today I’m joined by Arts Educator extraordinaire, Amanda Gross, who’s back to show us how to make a Fall Luminary from leaves and melted crayons. Not only are these beautiful, but the processes of collecting leaves, peeling crayons, and melting the wax with an iron are sure to capture a child’s attention.

Make a Lantern!

Luminaries are perfect for brightening a crisp autumn evening, and a crafty way to explore this season when leaves turn brilliant colors, the rosy twilight falls more quickly, and families the world over traditionally give thanks for the harvest.

You might start by reading a book that poetically investigates the unique things of autumn, such as Lois Ehlert’s Leaf Man or Lauren Thompson’s Mouse’s First Fall.

Would your child like to make a colorful fall luminary, choosing materials from outside and around the house?

Step 1:
Wander around outside, and notice how the leaves have turned a multitude of colors and have gotten crunchy. Choose leaves that have fallen off of trees, but are not too dry and can still lay flat.  If leaves are very curly, you may consider pressing them in a heavy book for a few days, before using them.  Bring your collection inside and onto a table.

Step 2:
Find a clean mason jar that will serve as the structure for your luminary.  Measure the mason jar’s circumference with sting, and cut a wax paper strip that is long enough to fit around it.

Step 3:
Gather crayons of your favorite colors.   Lanterns for the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival are often inspired by butterflies, so any hue goes!   Unwrap the paper covering the crayons, and shave them lengthwise over the wax paper, with a serrated knife or vegetable peeler.  If your child isn’t old enough to wield the knife, s/he could choose the crayon, the location, and how much pigment they’d like you to shave off.

Step 4:
Place leaves over the crayon shavings, and feel free to add more shavings on top.  Explain that the crayon wax will melt, and those little crumbs will become puddles of color.  Experiment with composition, and with layering the leaves and shavings.

Step 5:
Set up your ironing board and turn on the iron (If you are like me, and not the most experienced with this, here’s one of many online ironing tutorials).  On your ironing board, place a flat, thin cloth (the crayon wax will probably bleed through the wax paper a bit, so use scrap fabric and not “good” cloth), then carefully place your wax paper with the leaves and shavings.  Over this, put a blank sheet of wax paper, of around the same size.  Layer on another thin cloth, and smooth out the wrinkles with your fingers.  Spritz the top layer evenly with water from a spray bottle, and now you’re ready to iron.  Flatten out the wrinkles and iron both sides of the wax paper “sandwich.”

Step 6:
After waiting a few minutes for the wax paper to cool, peel away the cloth.  Measure your mason jar again, and cut the wax paper so that it fits around the jar, then tape or tie a ribbon around it to hold the paper in place.

Step 7:
When it gets dark outside, drop a candle into your mason jar, and ignite it with a long lighter.  The brilliant, glowing colors and winding lines of the leaves will surely be a cozy centerpiece for your family to gather around, and is an excellent reminder to be grateful for the season.

Resources

Picture Books About Fall on Goodreads

PreservingLeaves and a Leaf Lantern

Nature’sStained Glass

MeltedCrayon Luminaries

Amanda E. Gross_headshotAmanda designs curricula to guide and inspire children, teens, and adults to appreciate art and to create!  She earned a Master’s of Arts in Teaching from The Rhode Island School of Design and is an instructor at Academy of Art University.  Amanda is also an illustrator, painter, DIY crafter, and permaculture enthusiast. Find out more about Amanda here: Art Curricula WebsiteArt Portfolio WebsiteLinkedIn, and Pinterest.